“…every instant of conscious life is an unimaginable prodigy.”
If you watched me closely, you might conclude that I don’t like surprises – even pleasant ones. If complimented, I stiffen my facial muscles to conceal my pleasure. If life is good, I comment upon it more like an observer than a participant. “Yes – nice weather.” “I had a good weekend.” I manage conversations with practiced protocols – predictions of your part and repetitions of my part – lest the interchange open me up. Yes, if you watched me closely, you would conclude that I am well-defended against any surprise gift.
And yet, deeply buried, I absolutely yearn for unexpected blessing. I crave grace. Though I seldom confess this desire – my secret addictions betray my hunger, for they are all about manufacturing blessing. I don’t talk about my desire often. I’m afraid that you won’t get it and then I will feel ashamed. But I’m even more afraid that you will get it. If you do, then my hunger will be exposed – raw and throbbing.
So I perpetuate an odd self-harming cycle. God grants me the ability to consciously delight in life. What a gift. And I act like I don’t want it. I am made for surprise blessing and yet I minimize it when it comes. Nowhere is this more apparent than my daily repression of gratitude. Life gives me miracles every day. And I repress my ability to receive them.
This is my tragic cycle:
I awake; my legs still carry me. I grumble about the cold floor.
Someone greets me kindly. I brush it off.
Food tastes good. I down it without enjoyment.
I read that God loves me. I yawn.
I forfeit the best thing about me – the ability to gratefully receive.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The practice of gratitude restores the ability to receive. It halts my destructive cycle. Gratitude opens my eyes to daily graces. And it slowly opens my soul to the special graces – the advent and passion of Christ and the made-for-me forgiveness of Christ.
Gratitude is the way back to experiencing life as it really is – an unimaginable prodigy. Gratitude restores my God-granted ability to receive. Gratitude reshapes me into who I really am – the child who delights in his Father’s surprises.
Roger Edwards joined The Barnabas Center in 1991. In addition to counseling individuals and couples, Roger teaches and leads discussion groups about applying the Bible to everyday life. He is a licensed professional counselor, holds a master’s degree in biblical counseling from Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is married to Jean, and they have seven children.